Leonard Ravenhill, a great and respected revivalist, once wrote a book called “Why Revival Tarries.” I have absolutely nothing negative to say about Mr. Ravenhill. He certainly accomplished more in his life than I have. I also understand that his book is very well-read and is merited as being one of the “great reads” among sincere followers of the Messiah. Since this book has been around for quite some time, and since it is very popular among people seeking revival, I question… Why are we not seeing the millions coming to Christ?
Is it because our church leaders are not putting into practice what the book says to do? Is it because we are a prayerless church? Are we not doing enough to be separate from the world? I believe that the answer to all three of these questions is “Yes,” but there is something else to this mystery that we have been trained to overlook.
A Gulf of Our Own Design
Yahweh spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said “My ways are higher than your ways.”
Read the surrounding Scripture and you will find that this was not a boast. He was speaking through His prophet to a nation that had forsaken His Kingdom Law and turned their backs on their destiny, choosing to meld idolatry with the worship of the Most High. The “gulf” between their ways and His Ways was their own doing and they were without excuse.
Like the nation of Israel, we too will have no excuse in that Day when we stand before Him and give an account for our actions.
“Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
This passage shows plainly that God was not discouraging Israel from seeking Him or to emulating His Ways, but rather expressing to a sinful people that their sin (their “transgression of the law”) was what was causing the difference between their respective ways. Israel’s purpose was to be His ambassadors to the world. They were to demonstrate what it means to be citizens of a righteous Kingdom.
The Church Has a Distorted View of God’s Ways
The truth is, we should all be on a lifelong quest to change our ways to become like His Ways.
But somewhere along the line, our perception of what that means became distorted. We lost the knowledge of His Ways. We dictated to Him what His Ways were, and then we created a standard out of our deluded perception. If we held to that deluded standard, we judged ourselves to be righteous. If we failed, we were transgressors.
Because humans are fickle by nature, “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine,” that standard morphed over time.
Right now, those who do not go to church on Sunday, and who drink, smoke, chew, fool around, listen to rock music or go to movies are deemed sinners. And in many denominations, they’ll give you a pass for these transgressions, as long as you faithfully tithe!
There are Many Who Long for Revival
But there are a few disciples who DO adhere to the deluded standard. Who separate from these vices, stay “plugged in” to the church, pray, fast and read their Word. These are good people. I have friends like this and I love them. Their hearts long to see the Kingdom (as they perceive it) and they are frustrated at the compromise found in the mainstream church. They want revival… or so they think.
These few believers (and even fewer congregations) who long for revival picture thousands (no, millions) of people forsaking their worldly ways, going down the aisle and saying the sinner’s prayer with sincerity and tears. The more charismatic will add miracles, signs and wonders to the mix.
Such desire and longing wrenches on their hearts and they wonder why all the fasting and praying, all the preaching and “standing” in the midst of their peers is not having the desired effect.
I used to be one of these people, until I realized that I was barking up the wrong tree. My definition of “sin” was way off the mark (pun intended).
John gives us the plain definition of sin. It’s really quite simple.
Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.
Any time we disobey His Law, we sin. It’s that cut and dry. You can try to update the definition to fit the societal expectations of this century. You can try to twist Paul’s words to fit your denominational doctrine.
But you cannot take away from the basic definition. Sin is disobeying the Law (Torah).
Revival and the Hebrew Word “Chayah”
The word “revival” is one of those Christian catchphrases that has been used and abused since the “revivals” of the 18-1900’s. As a result, people picture a “revival” fitting into the scenario described above: millions of people coming to Jesus.
This is wrong. You won’t find the word “revival” anywhere in most accepted translations. You might find it in “the Message” …but you can find anything you want in “the Message.”
You can, however, find the word “revive.” It is the Hebrew word “chayah” [H2421] which means “to live, give life, restore, quicken.” The word “chayah” is also translated in our bibles as live, alive, save, quicken. For example:
Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. [chayah – H2421]
And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives [chayah – H2421] by a great deliverance.
You shall not permit a sorceress to live. [chayah – H2421]
So, you can see that the word “chayah” has many different types of “life”-oriented meanings. When “chayah” is translated as the word “revival,” it is always referring to giving life to a person (or people) who were once alive, then were dead and were in need of life again. I cannot find anywhere in the Word where it means giving life to a person (or a people) who was never alive in the first place.
So applying the term “revival” to sinners – people who were never “alive to God” in the first place – coming to the knowledge of the truth doesn’t fit, unless you twist its meaning to match what you’ve been taught.
So what is “True Revival?” What Does it Mean?
In order to experience “true revival,” our lives need to experience the restoration that happens when we turn from our sins (our “transgressions from the Law”), turn back to God, and follow His Ways.
He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways.
Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. (Also see Psalm 145:17.)
He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.
Unbelievers are not the ones who need “true revival,” but those who claim to know the Messiah and are dead in their trespasses and sins (transgressions of the law). We need people who will teach the commandments of the Most High and teach their listeners how to obey them.
He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life [chay – H2416 from “chayah”] to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.
Forever a Wish, Never a Reality
As long as we continue to judge the success (or failure) of our ministries by the amount of salvation cards filled out by the end of the day, as long as we continue to seek signs and wonders as a vehicle for our message, as long as we continue to discount the very Laws of the Kingdom we profess to belong to… true revival will continue to be an elusive dream… always within our sight, never within our grasp.